With the weather on your side, you can improve embankment stabilisation and reduce erosion risk
As the weather is turning warmer and the days are growing longer, spring is reflecting an optimistic mood across the country – and creating ripe conditions for groundworks on construction sites.
Now is an ideal time to boost vegetation growth, improve embankment stabilisation and prevent potential erosion or soil migration on a site, by installing turf reinforcement or erosion mats.
Dry conditions in the coming summer months, coupled with the potential for sudden storms, can impact the ground and lead to soil erosion, dust or silt formation. To mitigate this, laying erosion matting, whether non-seeded or grass seed mat, in April or May will begin to stabilise ground which could quickly become vulnerable to erosion, particularly slopes and embankments with exposed topsoil.
Erosion mats work by anchoring topsoil, protecting the ground from heavy rain or strong winds and providing an environment for vegetation to establish and grow. Where ground is bare and vegetation growth is required, grass seed mats allow the ground to be seeded at the same time as protected. By minimising ground exposure on construction sites and encouraging vegetation growth they support long-term, sustainable erosion control.
The benefits of these mats are two-fold. By slowing down rain and water runoff they reduce risk of erosion and prevent pollution, and by maintaining the integrity of soil and holding water they support the establishment of grass or plants in healthy soil.
There are a wide range of solutions available, ranging from seeded and non-seeded, all weights and weaves, and either permanent solutions, made from layers of synthetic materials, or biodegradable mats, made from natural fibres.
Figure 1 – Lack of vegetation on this site resulted in soil migration and silt formation in the stream.
Figure 2 – The same site 12 months later with the establishment of vegetation on the embankments.
Vegetation, such as grass, plants, saplings or trees is the most effective means of ensuring slope or embankment stabilisation so getting vegetation growth right is essential. It shields the ground from adverse weather and by creating a rough surface to slow rain and water runoff velocity it promotes dispersion and deposition of sediment. It also benefits works by reducing the risk of pollution as it slows or stops silt from getting into nearby watercourses.
Erosion mats are particularly useful on slopes or where embankment stabilisation is required, granting immediate stability. However, erosion control will only be fully supported once vegetation is established and growing, reinforcing that early planning and implementation of such methods at this time of year is best. Grass seed mats installed in spring will not only have a full growing season for vegetation to establish but will also be less likely to contend with heavy rain disturbing seeds.
Establishing the optimum conditions for vegetation to flourish in spring will deliver benefits through summer and into the winter months, ready for all – and even the unpredictable – weathers.
As well as installing these solutions at the right time, it’s vital they are regularly checked and maintained to ensure effectiveness year-round.
Effectively managing erosion control delivers financial, environmental and aesthetic benefits. By protecting the integrity and stability of grounds; preventing pollution in watercourses or disturbance to habits; and reducing the risk of ground slippages towards buildings or developments, it also ensures reputational benefits for constructors.